Dixon was jostled awake as he was loaded onto a stretcher. He looked around and saw hospital staff all around his bed, blocking his view of what was going on around him. One of the nurses noticed that he was awake and leaned in close to his ear as they began moving him out of the room he had been in.
"You rest now, sweetie," she whispered. "You go on back to sleep and when you wake up, everything will be all right. They're going to fix you up when you get to Little Rock."
"What are they going to do to me?" the boy asked her nervously.
"They are going to take care of you," she answered simply. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about a thing."
"I don't want to be a girl," Dixon told her.
"Shush now, they know what's best for you," the nurse informed him. "Let the doctors do their jobs."
"I don't want to be a girl," Dixon reaffirmed emphatically.
"Nurse, sedate the child for the trip," a man ordered. He then rattled off a dosage amount of some medication before he added, "We don't want her to be hurting from the bumpy ride." He had emphasized the word her. "My brother has the operating room standing by. As soon as they get there, he will begin the operation."
"Doctor, if the child is going straight into surgery, shouldn't that dosage be higher?" the nurse questioned. "At that level, the pain medication won't even last for the entire trip. Little Rock is two and a half hours away."
"Are you questioning my orders, nurse?" the man demanded angrily. "As the senior physician of this hospital, I can have your job for defying me."
"No, sir, I am not questioning you," the woman said quickly. "I was just a little confused, that's all." She stepped away for a moment before returning with a needle of something that she added to the IV that was already in Dixon's arm.
Dixon was barely aware of going outside and being loaded into an ambulance. He was out of it completely before the vehicle was out of the city limits. He began to slowly awake as they neared the hospital in Little Rock. The bumps in the street were excruciating. He had never realized how rough a ride in ambulance could be.
Dixon was hauled out of the ambulance and rushed into the hospital. As the doctor in Monticello had said, he was taken straight to the operating room. There he saw a man that he thought at first was the same doctor from home.
"Good morning, little girl," the doctor said as he walked up to Dixon.
"I'm not a girl, and I don't want to be," Dixon snapped.
"Well, you don't get a say in the matter," the doctor barked. He looked around the room and announced, "Let's get going, folks. The sooner this is done, the better. We don't want those goody two shoe Federation liberals sticking their noses into our hospital business."
"Doctor, the anesthesia hasn't taken effect yet," one of the nurses told him. "We can't begin until the boy is sedated."
"This is a girl, nurse, not a boy," the doctor snapped. "It does the child no good to hold onto an identity that no longer applies."
"Are you sure we have to do this?" the same nurse questioned. "He seems rather old to be going through a sex change. Why not wait until he is able to make the choice for himself."
"You have done it again," the doctor almost exploded. "You must refer to the patient as a female. If you do it again, or if you question my decisions or orders one more time, I will have you removed from this operating room and discharged from the hospital." He stepped closer to the table where Dixon was laying and removed the sheet that was covering him. "Scalpel," he demanded.
"Doctor, this child must be anesthetized before you begin the procedure!" the nurse cried out.
"I warned you, nurse." The doctor grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out of the room. He locked the door of the surgery behind him as he returned to the table.
The nurse ran down the hall to the nearest station to grab a phone. Moments later, she was standing outside the room once again, this time with the hospital administrator as they tried to break into the room. The boy's screams were echoing in the corridor as the doctor began his procedure. The hospital security team had just arrived with keys to the door when they heard screams of fright coming from the emergency room waiting area down the hallway behind them.
"Stay here unless they call you," the administrator told the security guards. "This situation is critical. That may just be a new arrival in the ER. They can be noisy at times without it being a security issue."
Just then a group of people came up behind them in the corridor. The administrator and the nurse noticed that several of them were wearing Starfleet security uniforms. The odd thing about it was that most of them were children.
"Move in!" shouted a platinum blond haired young teenager. The one adult in the group kicked the doors open freezing the team surrounding the operating table. "Back away from him!!!" the boy shouted to the doctor and the others in the room. He turned to one of two boys with him who were apparently twins. "Which one, dude?" he asked.
The strawberry blond haired boy he questioned was staring at the doctor coldly. "Him, he's the one in charge here." He squinted his eyes and continued; "He's already begun the procedure."
"He WHAT!?!" the blond shouted as he ran up to the table and slapped the instrument the doctor was using out of his hand. "You were ordered to cease this procedure, you son of a bitch!" He growled as he wrapped his hand around the doctor's throat, knocking him off balance and into the nearest wall.
"Marc, I have some info for you," the second boy announced with concern in his voice. "Can I put it in your head?"
"In my head?" The blond now identified as Marc turned just barely enough to see his companion without breaking his grip on the doctors throat. "That is what you said right?"
"Telepathic report Marc, it's faster and will give you instant access to the information he has for you," the adult man with them cut in.
"Oh. Ok. Yeah, go ahead Jacob," Marc said as his expression suddenly went blank and turned his gaze back at the doctor, now even more infuriated.
"What's Dixon's status guys?" Marc asked through clenched teeth.
"Marc, we gotta move!" a younger blond boy answered. "The initial incisions have been made already."
Marc used every ounce of strength in his body to slam the doctor against the wall one more time before releasing his grasp and backing over to the table. "You better pray he survives this or we'll be seeing each other again when you answer to charges of murder!" he said as he looked over the lifeless body in the bed. "Byron, this piece of trash is yours, you ok to assume command?" he asked as the boy he was speaking to nodded his head. "Antonio, Jerry, you're with me," he continued as he opened his communicator. "Terra Main? This is Dr. Furst. Four to transport directly to predetermined coordinates immediately."
"Acknowledged Doctor. Energizing now." Marc's communicator announced as almost simultaneously the transport began to dematerialize him and the two boys he had just spoken to along with Dixon.
The last of Dixon's strength gave way as he felt the tingling sensation of the transporter overtake him. He faded into unconsciousness blissfully unaware of the drastic changes that were about to take place in his life.
Mrs. Amee Whatley Wiggins felt stronger than she had in years. Her family had a future after all, and with any luck, she would be around to see at least some of it. She could already tell that today's events had done more for her health than the last ten years of doctor's instructions, diets, and exercise programs.
Thinking back on it, she realized that when that woman had stolen Little D, as the family had called him when he was born, it had affected the family physically as well as emotionally. Her own health began to deteriorate, but not as fast as her husband's. Daniel had absolutely doted on his great grandson. The loss of that baby had broken his spirit as clearly as if it had been a bone fractured. Two years later when Danny had been killed in that accident, it was the final straw. Daniel never recovered from the loss of his grandson. He had passed within a year.
To be quite honest, Amee was still a little hurt by his death. She missed him, but for a long time she had been angry at him. She had lost them too, but she didn't give up on life herself. He didn't have to leave her. She had in the space of three years, lost the three most important males in her life. She wouldn't dwell on that anymore, though. Now she was getting one of them back. She would not contemplate losing him again. He would get through this ordeal. There had to be at least a little streak of her blood in the boy's veins. That made him a survivor.
"M…M…Mrs. A… Amee."
"Good gracious, Huey, you look jitterier than a june bug in a frog pond," she smiled at the teen that had followed her out of his room. "Now you've got no call to be afraid to talk to me, sweetie. I've just seen your dirty underwear sitting on top of your desk. The only other man to ever experience that level of intimacy with me was my husband, Daniel. That's about as intimate as two people can get with each other. Now you go ahead and tell me what's on your mind, baby."
The old woman could tell that the boy was blushing as much as was possible for him, but to his credit he spoke up. "Would you… I mean, could you… Do you think...? Will you go with me to tell Momma, Poppa, and Grandmomma?"
"Well, of course I'll be there for you, Huey. You didn't even need to ask," she assured him. The boy reached out and took her hand in his tentatively as he looked up into her eyes. She could see the beginnings of tears in the corners of his which she wiped away with her other hand. "You're going to be just fine, darling. If anyone tries to hurt you, they'll have to come through me first. I might be an old lady, but I'm a feisty old lady."
She and Huey giggled as they walked arm in arm down the hall toward the stairs to the kitchen. Just as they reached the top, Huey pulled her arm to stop Mrs. Amee. He looked a little sheepish, but his curiosity was stronger than his embarrassment, so he blurted out his question.
"Why would Mr. Daniel's underwear have been on the desk?"
"Well, underwear was made a little differently back in those days, and well... we couldn't have sex if he was still in them, now could we?" the old woman responded honestly.
"Mrs. Amee!!!!" Huey cried out in shock. The old woman laughed out loud as this time she was sure he managed to blush.
"Well, you did ask," Mrs. Amee pointed out, still giggling like a school girl. "Something smells mighty good down there," she called as they walked down the stairs into the kitchen.
"I'm fixing all your favorites, Mrs. Amee," Petula announced. "We're going to celebrate tonight."
"Well, that's awfully nice of you, Pet, but…." the old woman began.
"Now don't you worry one little bit, Mrs. Amee," Pet interrupted. "It most certainly is not too much work. To be honest, I'm so excited right now, if I weren't busy, I would be going absolutely crazy."
"Well, I had figured on going to the hospital to be there when…."
"Mrs. Amee, you said you would be here," Huey interrupted her.
"Well, honey, I didn't realize you wanted to do this now," the old woman explained. When she saw Huey's face, she immediately realized that he was desperate for her support. "All right, Huey. I didn't mean any hurt to you; I'm just worried about Little D." She reached out to stroke the nervous teen's arm. "I don't suppose it will hurt anything to be a few more minutes before I get there.
"I'm sorry Mrs. Amee," Melvin, Petula's husband began. "I never dreamed that something like this would come up this afternoon. I took the car down to Tyrone's Garage this morning to have it serviced. It won't be done until first thing in the morning."
"Oh, but I wanted to be at the hospital when they brought Little D in," the old woman sighed.
"Well, if you that anxious, there is my old truck," Melvin suggested.
"Melvin, what kind of fool are you?" his wife shrieked. "I barely can climb into that monster truck of yours. How in the world do you expect Mrs. Amee to get in that rust bucket?"
"Don't diss the truck, Pet," Melvin growled playfully. "That rust bucket got me here ten years ago to meet you and take on this job."
"Well, as much as I hate to do it because I really want to go to the hospital now, I have to agree with Pet," Mrs. Amee announced. "I couldn't get my old bones up into that truck of yours without a step ladder, and then I would need a parachute to get back out of it."
"That would be a sight to see," Huey laughed. He realized he had spoken out loud instantly. He turned to Mrs. Amee quickly. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Amee. I shouldn't ought to talk like that to you."
"You're right, though," she told him. "I would be a sight to see getting in or out of that truck," she added with a giggle of her own.
"Now what kind of burr have you got in your britches?" Annie Mae asked her grandson. The boy immediately ducked his head to look at his crotch. "I just meant what have you got on your mind, sweetie. Your fly isn't open." The adults in the room all giggled as the boy looked back up sheepishly.
"I wanted…. I mean I need to…." He looked over to Mrs. Amee and she could see the terror in his young eyes and the tears that were about to form.
"We don't have to do this tonight, honey," Mrs. Amee offered softly. "We can if you're feeling up for it, but it can wait. Nobody's going to die from not knowing, and contrary to what you are probably thinking, neither will you whether you say anything tonight or not."
"I think I'd rather get it over with as soon as possible," the teen assured her. Mrs. Amee went and sat on the bench at the table beside Annie Mae. "Momma, Poppa, Grandmomma, I need to tell y'all something."
"Can't nothing be as serious as you look," Annie Mae told her grandson. "We're all set to celebrate tonight, and you look like you're headed out to a funeral."
"I just hope it's not mine," Huey mumbled nervously.
"Langston Hughes Washington, what are you going on about?" his mother demanded.
"Huey, baby, you're shaking like a willow leaf in a hurricane," Annie Mae observed. "Come over here and sit by Mrs. Amee and me." The old woman pulled the teenager into a hug as soon as he got within arm's reach. She was surprised by the fact that he did nothing to stop her as he had been known to do for the last couple of years. Instead he clung to her as if his very life depended on it. She also realized that he was crying. "Hush now, baby child," the loving grandmother cooed as she rubbed his back. "Tell Grandmomma what's bothering you, angel boy."
"Huey, you're starting to worry me, son," Pet told him. "What's got you upset like this?"
"You're all going to hate me," Huey sobbed as he was pulled onto the bench between his grandmother and Mrs. Amee.
"Now, Huey, I told you already, this doesn't change the way I feel about you at all," Mrs. Amee reminded the boy. "Do you want me to tell them for you?" she offered. She hoped he would turn her down. She knew this was something he needed to do for himself. As expected the boy shook his head, even though he still didn't say anything aloud. He was still too emotional to speak.
"Huey, I love you more than anything or anyone except your sister, Zora," his mother insisted. "Ain't nothing anyone, including you, could ever say or do that could make me hate you."
"Momma, I'm gay," Huey blurted.
"See there, Pet," Annie Mae said quickly. "I told you this would happen if you named your baby after a famous gay man."
"You was right, again, Mama," Pet said seriously. "I should have known better."
"This ain't because of what I'm named, Momma," Huey started to protest before his mother interrupted him.
"Huey baby, I knew you was that way years ago," Pet told her son. "You can't hide anything from me any more than I can from your grandmomma. I saw who you looked at and the way you looked at them when you were just starting to figure out what that tadpole between your legs was for."
"Momma!" Huey called out in shock.
"I wash your bedsheets and your underwear, boy," Pet continued. "I can tell you the very day you had your first squirt."
"Mrs. Amee, make them stop," the teen whined as he buried his face into her shoulder.
"Now y'all don't pick on the boy," Mrs. Amee scolded with a smile. "He was very brave telling you what he did." She pulled the boy into another hug before the room was interrupted by the sound of a man clearing his throat. Everyone looked over at Melvin. The man had a very serious expression on his face.
"Huey, come here to me," Melvin ordered. The teen slowly stood up and walked over to the step-father who had legally adopted him three years ago. When he stood directly in front of the man, Melvin spoke again. "Is this what you were afraid of telling me for the last year?" Huey's eyes widened in shock. "Boy, I ain't blind. I knowed there was something you was hiding from us. I was afraid you was on drugs or in some gang." He reached out and took the boy's hands in his own. "You honestly thought that I would reject you or even hurt you because you like boys?"
"Yes sir," Huey whispered. He knew his knees were shaking and he felt like he was about to pass out.
"Why son, I'm pure grateful to you is what I am," Melvin said firmly. Huey looked into the man's eyes in obvious confusion. "I been feared of your starting to date for three years now. Me and you, we been the only men around the place for that whole time, and I was dreading the day you would start bringing a gaggle of giggling little females around here chasing after you like a bunch of hens after the only rooster in the chicken coop. Too many hens in this here chicken coop already. 'Bout time we had some more roosters. I gots to tell you boy, I'm relieved as hell."
"Melvin Washington!" Pet scolded shrilly.
Melvin ducked his head in shame, but Huey could still see that the man was grinning. "Now see there, son. That's just what I was talking about," he whispered. He straightened up then and grew serious once again. "Huey, I want to apologize for not being the man I should have been for you. I thought you understood how I felt about you and your sister. If you were afraid to talk to me, then I failed you, son."
"You haven't failed me," Huey contradicted. "I was afraid I had failed you. I won't be having you any grandsons to carry the name of Washington."
"I wouldn't be so sure of that, Huey," Mrs. Amee advised. "There's all sorts of things that can be done these days; adoption, surrogate mothers, you never know. If you want a child, and I'm still alive when you're ready, I will see to it that you get as many as you can handle. What else am I going to do with all this money I'm stuck with?"
"I couldn't take your money, Mrs. Amee," Huey insisted.
"Well, baby, you don't have much choice," Mrs. Amee explained. "You're already listed in the will. I can't change it either. Little Donny Leggett is a judge now, so he can't be my attorney anymore, and I don't trust any other lawyers. That means you and Zora are stuck inheriting right along with Little D, now that he is back."
"Amee, you never told me you'd done something like that," Annie Mae whispered.
"Well, my will is not a topic I care to discuss all that often, Annie Mae," the older woman smiled. "It reminds me that I'm old. Besides, what else can I do with all that money? You and your family have been a part of my family since long before either of us came along, and I sure hope they stay together after we're gone. My will is one way of trying to make that happen." She paused to wipe a tear from her eyes before she continued.
"To tell the truth, I don't know where I'd be if it weren't for you and your family, Annie Mae," the old woman said seriously. "When we were girls, you were my best friend. As we grew up, you became more than that. You're my sister and my best friend both. You're family is my family. That was especially true for these past few years when I thought I didn't have any family left." She turned to Pet as she added, "The idea that you are as excited about Little D coming home as I am proves that you feel like I'm a part of your family, too. I couldn't ask for a better family to be a part of, either. I love every one of you just the way you all are. I wouldn't dare change a thing about any of you. Do you hear me, Huey?"
"Thank you, Mrs. Amee," Huey said politely as he hugged her tightly.
"None of that Mrs. Amee stuff anymore," she scolded as she slapped him softly on the seat of his pants. "From now on, you call me Aunt Amee or you can use Grandmomma Amee if you want." She looked up at Pet then and said, "We have some planning to do. I want to throw the biggest party this old mausoleum of a house has ever seen to welcome Little D back home." She turned back to Huey and asked, "Can you help me think of some young people to invite?"
"I wonder if either of those doctors you talked to has an older brother?" the teen giggled.
"She meant for Little D to meet, not you," Pet fussed.
"Now, there's nothing wrong with including a little coming out party for Huey," Mrs. Amee assured her.
"I don't know if I'm ready to come out to everyone just yet, Mrs… I mean Grandmomma Amee," Huey stammered.
"I didn't mean it that way," Mrs. Amee assured him. "I meant coming out socially, like a debutante's ball," she explained.
The next morning Mrs. Amee was so nervous about going to the hospital and seeing Little D that she had to have help getting dressed and putting on her jewelry. She called Annie Mae and Pet into her room while Melvin was to go get the car back from the garage.
"Does this outfit make me look like an old maid?" she asked her friends. "I can't look any younger, I know, but I don't want to look like a teacher or a librarian. I want to look more like a grandmother." They both laughed at her and told her she was acting like a school girl going on a first date.
Melvin walked in from the garage just as the ladies were coming downstairs. They were all surprised to see that Huey had cooked breakfast for them. When the adults just stood in the doorway staring, he just grinned.
"Momma's not the only one around here that knows how to fry an egg, you know," he told them with his hands on his hips. "Besides, if I had waited on you women to get done fixing hair, face and clothes, I would have starved to death."
"I know he didn't go there," Pet said with a laugh as she walked in and sat down at the kitchen table. "I could get used to this, son. It's nice to have some help in the kitchen sometimes."
"I can hire…." Mrs. Amee began, but Pet cut her off.
"Won't be no strangers coming in my kitchen," the younger woman said flatly. "Besides, Huey may not live here forever. If he goes off to school, or moves out after school, he'll need to know how to feed himself."
Melvin, who had already started eating, said, "Well, he knows his way around a frying pan pretty well already. If I didn't know better, I'd swear I was eating yours, Pet." The other adults agreed that his cooking skills were first rate. Once they were all full, Melvin got up and started dialing the phone. "Good morning, Tyrone," he said into the handset. "What do you mean the car ain't ready? It has to be ready, Mrs. Amee's got to go to the hospital….. No, she's alright, they found Little D yesterday. He was in a real bad way when they got him. All right, I'll tell her." After another few seconds of small talk he hung up and turned to Mrs. Amee. "There were some parts on the car that were wearing out, and he took them out to replace them."
"Oh, no," Mrs. Amee gasped. "Not today."
"He didn't know about Little D," Melvin pointed out. "When I told him, he said he would get the car put back together by noon, or he would come drive us into town himself."
"Noon," Mrs. Amee sighed. Just then the phone rang. Pet answered and handed it to Mrs. Amee. "Yes, hello," the old woman said quietly. "Hello, Just Jerry. How's my boy?.... Oh, thank goodness…. Wait until noon? Well, actually that works out fine for me. My car is in the repair shop as we weren't expecting this news yesterday. I will be there this afternoon if I have to walk…. Oh, no thank you, sweetie. I don't think I would enjoy being transported. I will keep the offer in mind if the car doesn't get repaired on time." Once she hung up, she looked around the room and said, "Transporters, he says. No thank you. I'll keep my molecules in the original order, if you please."
"But Grandmomma Amee, transporters are so cool," Huey gushed. "Starfleet uses them all the time."
"Rushing around the galaxy may be fine for young people like you, Huey, but I think I'm just a little long in the tooth to be trying too many new gadgets in one week. The computer phone thing yesterday was my limit for this week."
"You're not that old," Huey argued softly.
"Save the sweet talk for some little hottie," Mrs. Amee laughed. "I'm well past that stage."
"I wouldn't say that, Amee," Annie Mae giggled. "Mr. Styverson down at the bingo hall thinks you're pretty hot stuff still."
"Henry Styverson is a dirty old man," Mrs. Amee snorted. "He was born a dirty old man, and I should know, because I remember when he was born. That makes him far too young for me."
Jessie's eyes filled with tears as the crazed minister lashed his back, butt and legs. The hits on his butt hurt the worst. It was so sore already from everything that Ezekiel had done to him. Jessie refused to scream no matter how much it hurt, though. He was not going to let them know that they hurting him.
"I had news for you today," the reverend said as he kept swinging. "Your brother was taken to the hospital this morning. There was no room for him at the local jail, so he was taken to the state prison. It seems his cellmates there didn't like sharing their space with a child molesting pervert. He should be dead by the end of the day, just like your little friend Dixon."
"Jason…NO!!" Jessie screamed as he jerked away from the preacher's grasp. He suddenly turned back to face the man. "What was that about Dixon?"
"Your little boyfriend apparently didn't survive the discipline of his mother," Malachi sneered at the boy.
"NO!!!" Jessie screamed. "You're lying."
"I see you haven't learned your lesson," the preacher hissed angrily. "Well this time I will prove you wrong so that you learn the error of your ways. Come with me, you spawn of the evil one. We'll call the hospital so you can hear for yourself."
He grabbed Jessie by the arm and dragged the boy into the kitchen with him. He pushed the speaker button on the phone and dialed a number. An operator answered and confirmed that it was the local hospital.
"I want to talk to Dixon Pickhinke!" Jessie blurted.
"I'm sorry, that patient was sent to Baptist Children's Hospital during the night last night." Malachi disconnected the call at that point.
"You see, he's alive!" Jessie exclaimed. "They just moved him."
"You think so?" the minister snorted. He dialed another number. When the Children's Hospital operator answered, he asked for Dixon's room.
"We have no patient by that name," was the response.
"He was transferred there last night," Jessie called out. "He's gotta be there."
"The system shows that the only transfer patient we received in the last twenty four hours was a girl, and she was removed by Vulcan diplomatic order this morning."
"No…no…no…." Jessie whimpered as he slumped to the floor in tears.
"Your evil companions have paid the ultimate price for their sins," Malachi began preaching. "Now I will discipline you so that you don't follow in their footsteps." He reached for Jessie, but the boy jumped away from him.
"Don't you touch me!" Jessie yelled. He snatched a large knife from the counter beside him.
"How dare you threaten me in my own home!" Malachi snapped, but Jessie wasn't listening.
"I won't be left alone here," Jessie mumbled. He turned the knife toward his own stomach. "I love you, Dixon," he whispered.
"Don't expect me to stop you," Malachi barked. "Go to the devil, sinner, and corrupt my house no more. Your sins will keep you from heaven, you know. No one will ever love an abomination like you. You are cursed by God."
Before Jessie could hurt himself however, Ezekiel came in from the doorway behind him. The older teen tackled him, knocking the knife from his hands. Rev. Malachi wasted no time in advancing on the young boy now lying on the floor. He swung the belt he still had in his hands and brought it down viciously over and over. Jessie screamed and wept, but after a moment he realized that he wasn't feeling the pain of the preacher's attack. Just as he realized this, the preacher stopped the beating. The phone was ringing.
"Take him to his room and keep him quiet," Malachi ordered his son. He picked up the phone and said, "Hello…. Rebecca, slow down…. Why would Starfleet be checking into it?" That was all Jessie heard before Ezekiel had him too far up the stairs to hear any more.
"You have been one very bad boy," Ezekiel snarled. "You will learn to obey the rules of this house one way or another." As he threw Jessie into the room, he began unfastening his pants. "The first rule is that I can have anything I want around here, and right now I want you to suck me off. Father told me to shut you up and you will be quiet with me in your mouth."
"I will bite it off if you try it, Ezekiel," Jessie warned. "I will not submit to you."
"You'd better, or else," Ezekiel replied harshly. "I have forced bigger and stronger guys than you. You can't hurt me."
"I can and I will if I have to," Jessie told the older boy firmly. "I swear to you if you try to make me suck you off again, I will make you look just like Dixon did when they took him away. You'll die from it too, just like he did."
"I don't think he's dead," Ezekiel mumbled.
"What do you mean?" Jessie demanded.
"Nothing you little fag," the older boy sneered quickly trying to cover his slip of the tongue. "You don't have to worry about sweet little Dixie ever again. You live here now, and Father will make sure you never see or hear from that little freak show attraction ever again."
"Dixon is alive, isn't he?" Jessie crowed excitedly. "I knew he wasn't dead. I just knew it."
"What good does it do you to know that she's still alive?" Ezekiel taunted. "Dixon's a girl now, thanks to his mom and the God fearing doctors. You're still a fag. He doesn't have the equipment you want anymore, but I do. Besides, do you really think that Dixon would want you now. I took your cherry yesterday, didn't I? You're used goods now. You're nothing but a worthless piece of ass and mouth for me to use anytime I feel like. I took you yesterday, that means you belong to me now. So get over here and let me plug your holes again."
Dixon was having a terrible nightmare. He dreamed that his mother learned about his relationship with Jesse and attacked him. Then he started waking up and remembered that it was all true. In fact, his last memory was the incredible pain of being cut on by that jerk in the operating room as Dixon screamed for him to stop. He opened his eyes and saw first that he was in a hospital room.
The next thing he noticed were two boys about the same age as him standing beside his bed looking at a chart. One had the whitest blond hair Dixon had ever seen. The other had hair almost the same color as his own.
"Where am I?" His voice sounded terrible even to him. The two strange boys looked up at him. "Who are you guys?"
"Don't try to sit up just yet. You've been through a lot," the platinum blond said softly. "You are in what will soon be The Clan Short & Federation Youth Services Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. At least when it's done it will be. My name is Marc, and this is Jerry," Marc said pointing toward the other boy.
"Where's Jessie? Where's my mom?" Dixon asked frantically.
"She isn't here," Marc said in almost a whisper. "You're safe now, Dixon. Just relax."
"Where's Jessie?" Dixon repeated.
"Who's Jessie?" Jerry asked him.
"My boy….my friend," Dixon tried to correct himself, but realized it was too late. "Don't hurt me, please," he whimpered as he drew himself into a little ball in the bed to try to protect himself in case the boys in the lab coats started hitting him. The movement hurt really badly, but Dixon was so panicked he hardly noticed.
"We're here to help you get better, not hurt you," Marc said as he raised his hands and kept some distance. "You've already been hurt more than enough."
"You need to lay still or you'll hurt yourself though," Jerry added. He reached up and rubbed Dixon's arm reassuringly. "It's ok. We're your friends, Dixon."
"Did you just say I'm in South Carolina? How did I get here? I live in Arkansas," Dixon asked the boys beside him.
"That's a really long story, and I promise you will hear all of it, but for right now, we have to make sure you're getting better," Marc said in an attempt to calm him a bit.
"What happened to me?" Dixon asked slowly. He looked toward his crotch, and started to reach for it, but his hand stopped. "Am I…. I mean did she…. Do I have…? Did they…?" He began to stutter.
"You were cut up pretty badly when they got you to the hospital in Arkansas," Jerry told him. "Fortunately, you had been fingerprinted when you were little."
"Fingerprinted? Am I going to jail?" Dixon asked in confusion.
"No, you're not in trouble," Marc assured him. "You had been fingerprinted for identification when you were a little kid. Two weeks after that, you were kidnapped."
"What are you guys talking about?" Dixon continued to question. "I don't remember being kidnapped."
"You were only about a year and a half old when it happened," Jerry supplied. "You wouldn't remember this, unless you had a brain like this old guy," he added with a smile; pointing at Marc.
"What do you mean? Who kidnapped me?" Dixon rambled as understanding seemed to gradually began to dawn on him. "You mean she wasn't really my Mom?"
"Jerry, I think we're just confusing him worse," Marc said sympathetically. "Dixon, you need to rest some more before we talk any more."
"No, I want to know," Dixon insisted. "Who am I, if I'm not Dixon Pickhinke?"
"Your real name is Daniel K. Wiggins, IV," Marc answered. "Your real parents were Dan and Susan Wiggins from right here in Charleston."
"What do you mean they were my parents?" Dixon asked with a sharp tone.
"Your father was killed in a car accident two years after you disappeared, and your mom died of cancer three years ago," Marc told him. "I'm really sorry."
"My mom wasn't my mom, and my real parents are dead," Dixon said flatly. "Any more great news to share? What about me? Am I ok… down there? Am I a girl now?"
"No, you're not a girl, but …." Marc began, but looked down and didn't finish.
"That woman hurt you really bad," Jerry said as a tear began to work it's way down his cheek.
"The woman who claimed to be your mother cut your…." Marc started to say, but he couldn't finish either.
"She cut them off, didn't she?" Dixon asked. He tried not to, but he couldn't stop himself from crying as Marc and Jerry just nodded silently. Jerry began to cry almost as hard as Dixon, not being able to hold back any longer.
Marc pulled Jerry into a hug and reached out to Dixon. "She cut everything off, Dixon," he continued quietly. "Don't worry though, that's why you're here. We've taken care of you."
"What's going to happen to me? Do I have to become a girl?" Dixon asked through his sobs.
"No, we've replaced what you've lost," Marc said in as confident a tone as he could muster, having the affect he had hoped for as Dixon's sobbing began to slow.
"How did you do that?" Dixon asked him. The only people Dixon could think of that might be able to do something like that was Starfleet, and he knew that they wouldn't be interested in him and his problems.
"It wasn't that hard, actually," Jerry told him as he wiped away the tears and actually began to smile again. "First, Marc reattached your pe…. Well, you know." The boy blushed incredibly red at that moment, making Dixon notice for the first time how cute he was. "Your own… well, we couldn't reattach yours, but we used a biological method to create replacement parts. Like what you would find on an android."
"You created…. What did you do to me? What am I now, Frankenstein's monster?" Dixon seemed to panic once again.
"Dixon, you have to try to remain calm," Marc said quietly.
"Screw that!" Dixon yelled. "First, my mother attacks me, cutting off my… everything. Now you show up and tell me that she isn't my mother. My real parents are dead. Then you top it off by telling me you put me back together with what, spare parts? Where the hell am I that you would have spare parts laying around for people's bodies?"
"Not people bodies," Jerry corrected. "Androids." He said as Marc turned quickly and glared at him. "Sorry," Jerry said as he looked toward his feet.
"Android parts!" Dixon bellowed. "I have android parts now?"
"They are based on your own biological components so they integrated quite well, actually," Marc tried to assure him.
"What the hell am I now?" Dixon demanded. "I'm not a girl, but am I an android?"
"No, he's the android," Jerry pointed at Marc. "Oh, and there's Kevin and Joey. They're androids too, but you'll meet them when they wake up. I bet Joey would think you just need a hug to get better. He's really good at them, too. Of course, I'm a little prejudiced being his father."
"You're someone's father?" Dixon asked. Jerry nodded. "You look about nine years old, how can you be anyone's father? And didn't you just say that he's an android?" Jerry just nodded again with a happy smile. "Marc, can you guys let me go back to sleep? I think I'm getting a headache."
"You do need to rest more," Marc agreed as he reached down and set the biobed to sedate. "I'll contact Mrs. Amee now that you're awake."
"Who's Mrs. Amee?" Dixon asked. This was getting to him fast. His mind couldn't keep up with everything that was going on. He was trying to stay alert, but suddenly he was feeling very sleepy.
"She's your great grandmother," Jerry answered. "You'll be living with her when you leave here."
"I have a great grandmother," Dixon mused as he closed his eyes and peacefully drifted off to sleep.
Mrs. Amee couldn't remember a time when she was more anxious to get out of her house. The suspense of not knowing how Little D was doing was about to get the best of her. She had taken to pacing from the parlor to the kitchen, through the dining room, and back into the parlor again.
"Will you set yourself down, Amee?" Annie Mae asked in exasperation. "For one thing, you're making me tired just watching you, and for another, you about to wear out that brand new carpet you just had laid out in the dining room." Before Amee could respond, the phone rang. She jumped at the device as if she were a teenager.
"Hello…. Well, hello again, Jerry…. He just woke….. He will be fine…. Jerry, you have no idea how wonderful it is to hear those words…. No, I am still waiting for my car to be brought back by the mechanic…. No, thank you for the offer, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable with that transporter thing…. Don't you worry, though; I will get there today by hook or by crook…. Well, I will certainly look you and Marc up when I get to the hospital…. I can't thank you enough for bringing my boy back to me…. Goodbye."
"MELVIN!" Annie Mae bellowed as soon as Amee hung up the phone. "You get on that phone and you tell that no good, money-grubbing snake of a mechanic that he'd best get a car of some kind for Mrs. Amee or he will be answering to me."
No sooner had she said it than they all heard the most awful noise out in the circle driveway. They all went out onto the front porch just in time to see a beaten old rustbucket of a tow truck pulling up.
"Now Mrs. Amee, I swear I tried ever' way I could to get you to that boy's side," the driver began.
"Tyrone, today I wouldn't have cared if you had shown up in a mule and wagon," Mrs. Amee told the grease covered man. "I just want to get to my boy; how I get there doesn't matter one little bit. I may need a little help climbing up in this thing though."
"Oh no ma'am, you ain't got to ride in this thing. I just came over to apologize in person and to let you know that I am giving you another car to use until yours is finished," Tyrone explained. Just as he said that, another vehicle pulled into the driveway. It was a Volkswagen convertible, one of the originals, not the new thing. It was painted forest green and had enormous orange, blue, and yellow flowers with bright red peace signs all over it.
"Where on earth did you dig that thing up?" Melvin laughed.
"A customer brought that in to have some work done on it, but he went to prison on drug charges before I could get paid. He signed the car over to me in payment for the work I had done on it," Tyrone told them. "I will be selling the thing if I find someone willing to buy it."
Huey had just walked out at that moment and saw the little car. "Whose sweet little love bug?" he asked as he practically drooled over the new arrival. He was too busy looking the car over to see the look Mrs. Amee and Annie Mae shared.
"Well, I did say I didn't care what I got there in," Mrs. Amee said with a shrug as she walked to the little car. "Melvin, do you remember how to drive one of these?" she teased.
"Now Mrs. Amee, you know I can drive anything with wheels," he answered with a grin. "I just don't know if I want to be seen driving this hippy mobile."
"I think it's uber sweet," Huey whispered. Once again, Mrs. Amee and Annie Mae shared a mischievous smile, but this time Pet saw them.
"I want to protest, but I know it won't do any good," Pet sighed as she walked back into the house. Huey ignored her if he heard at all.
"Do you want to ride along, Huey?" Mrs. Amee asked the teen. She could see the temptation in his eyes, but he resisted.
"No, ma'am," he said somewhat sadly. "I told you I would finish that rosebed today, and I am going to do just that. I gave you my word, and I'm going to stick to it."
"Now I could see how much he wanted to ride in this car, but he would rather give up something fun like this than break a promise to an old lady. That boy is amazing," Mrs. Amee said as she and Melvin pulled out of the driveway behind the tow truck which turned away from them to return to the garage.
"He sure is," Melvin agreed proudly. "I wish I could make it up to him that he was afraid to tell me about himself. I let him down."
"Don't blame yourself too much, Melvin," Mrs. Amee instructed him. "He was probably scared because of all the frightening stories he hears about what happens when kids do come out."
"Mrs. Amee, I swear 'fore God and all the saints, I would cut off my own arm before I ever laid a hand on that boy in anger," Melvin said firmly.
"I know that, Melvin," the old woman assured him. "I think he is figuring it out, too."
A little while later they pulled up in front of the old Navy hospital. The place was swarming with construction crews and there was a steady stream of people going in and out of the guard shack at the edge of the parking lot.
"If you are looking for the personnel office, I can't help you anymore than I could the four thousand other people that seem to have heard that we are opening this place back up, a teenager in uniform said tiredly. "We are just getting set up. I don't even know the whole layout of the building yet, myself."
"I'm not here for a job, young'un," Melvin told him. "I brought Mrs. Amee Wiggins here to see her great grandson. They brought him here last night."
"Oh, you're Dixon's family?" the boy asked. "That's different. I'm sorry about just now. I've had a lot of people asking me about jobs today."
"Well, I would think that's a good thing," Melvin observed. "People in town must have heard that you're doing a good thing here, and they want to be a part of it."
"I hadn't thought of it that way," the teen confessed. "That helps. I was getting a little tired of all the interruptions." He looked down at a chart and then told Melvin which door to go to find Dixon.
The first medical person Mrs. Amee came across as she looked for Little D was the nurse at the station. There hadn't been anyone at the reception desk just inside the doors of the building. The sign that gave directions hadn't been updated since the place had belonged to the navy, so it was no help. She and Melvin were forced to wander the halls until they found someone. The nurse had known exactly where to send them.
"I don't know about a Daniel Wiggins, but we've only got one human patient right now, so he must be the one," the woman said. "If you'll wait here, I will get a doctor to talk to you about his condition."
"That would be most helpful," Mrs. Amee said gratefully. A few minutes later a man in his early thirties walked up to them and introduced himself as Dr. Chris Herron. "It is a pleasure to meet you, young man. What can you tell me about my great grandson?"
"He's a very lucky young man, Mrs. Wiggins," Chris began. "This hospital didn't exist a couple of days ago, and if it weren't for this place and the staff that is starting to form here, that boy would be a girl now. That's assuming he was alive at all at this point."
"The little doctor boys, Marc and Jerry, said they would take care of him," Mrs. Amee said. "Somehow, I just know I can trust them, even if they are children. They didn't seem much like children when they were talking to me on the computer phone yesterday."
"At times it is easy to forget that they are so young," Chris agreed. "Jerry and one of his colleagues here are most responsible for the success of the procedures yesterday. They created a new process of developing biomatter so that your great grandson was able to have everything he needed done yesterday rather than spread out over several weeks."
"I told Jerry over the phone that I would look him up and thank him personally for everything he and Marc have done," Mrs. Amee told the doctor. "I will have even more to thank him for than I realized it seems."
"I wouldn't underestimate the work that Marc did either," Chris pointed out. "He was working in that operating room for ten hours without a break yesterday. I have never seen such dedication or selfless devotion to duty, even from older colleagues in the medical field."
"I owe those boys more than I can ever say," Mrs. Amee sniffled as she wiped tears from her eyes. "I never thought I would live to see my little boy again. He's the last family I have other than my dearest friends, Annie Mae and her family."
"Well, I should think that given a sufficient time to recover, this young man will be with you for a long time to come," Chris said happily. "Now that's enough talking to me. Let me take you to see your boy."
"Oh heavens, I can't go in there to see him just now. I was riding over here in a convertible. I must look a sight," Mrs. Amee fussed. "Melvin, will you go ahead to the room. I will be there shortly. I have to fix my hair and face the best I can."
"Now, Mrs. Amee, you know you look just fine," Melvin told her. "You do as you please, though. I know how you women folk get."
"You wait until Pet hears what you just said," Mrs. Amee teased as she walked away.
Melvin followed Chris around the nurse's station and to the door of a room. He only barely heard the doctor telling the nurse that he was part of the family and was to be allowed full access to the patient's room. He was distracted by the face of the boy sleeping in the hospital bed.
"How could anybody hurt an angel like that?" he mused softly as he watched the boy roll around a bit and begin to wake up.
Jessie would not be used again. He was determined this time that he would not be taken without a fight. He struggled against Ezekiel with all the strength he had. He was hopeful at one point, but that quickly faded. He just didn't have the stamina to defeat a larger, more experienced opponent, especially after everything he had already been through since arriving at this house. The older boy brought his fist up under Jessie's chin, knocking the younger boy to the floor and dazing him enough that the older boy could pin him easily.
"Now we'll see you learn your lessons," Ezekiel told Jessie. He dragged the boy over to the closet and grabbed some leather straps that had been hanging in the back. In no time at all, Jessie was bound hand and foot and lying on the floor at Ezekiel's feet. "You don't have much fight left in you now, do you?" When Jessie tried to answer, Ezekiel took his dirty underwear and shoved them into Jesse's mouth and then wrapped a leather strap around the boy's head preventing him from spitting them out. "When I give you orders, you will obey me, just as you would Father," the teen barked. Each word was accentuated by a punch or kick to Jessie's defenseless body. The boy sank into blessed unconsciousness as someone knocked at the door downstairs.
Ezekiel was angered to hear his father yell up the stairs for him to get the door. When he got downstairs, he heard his father still on the phone with his aunt. He went to the living room and opened the door. Standing on his front porch were three little boys and a kid about his own age. The teenager was wearing some sort of uniform and one of the kids was wearing a scrub suit like a doctor. Ezekiel blocked the door with his body and scowled at the group.
"Can I help you?" he asked flatly.
"I hope so," the kid in the doctor's costume said. "My name is Jerry Owens, this is Eli and Benji Michaels and Edward Fraser. We are with Clan Short of Vulcan..."
"Ok, is there a reason you're here?" Ezekiel cut him off and practically barked. It wasn't time for Halloween and his father didn't allow such sinful celebrations on his property anyway.
"Yes, we were hoping to speak with Jessie Blankenship. It's very important." Jerry said as Ezekiel scowled at him once again.
"What you need to talk to him for?" the reverend's son asked with a snort.
"We would like to speak with Jessie regarding the happenings on the day of the attack." Eli said in an emotionless tone.
"That and we thought he'd like to know that his friend Dixon is going to be alright." Jerry added.
"He don't know nuthin about the attack. Nuthin that will help you," Ezekiel said as he took a step backwards. This couldn't be the real Starfleet that his father was talking about with his Aunt Rebecca, but they still weren't going to talk to his new punching bag. "As far as that little fairy at the hospital goes, he don't care how he is." He said with an arrogant smile. "Said so himself."
"Who is in charge here?" Jerry asked stiffening his back. "There is an adult on the premises, right?"
"My father is here, yeah." Ezekiel replied. "But he don't need to be bothered over all this. You should probably just leave."
Eddie cleared his throat and made a production out of checking his phaser settings, gaining everyone's attention. "I suggest you get your father buddy." Eddie said as he looked up and half smiled. "I wouldn't want to have to use force."
"One second," Ezekiel spat out as he closed the door. It didn't matter if this guy was with the real Starfleet or not, Ezekiel didn't feel up to a physical confrontation with someone so evenly matched. His father could deal with them while he went and took care of Jessie.
Malachi was not happy to hear what Ezekiel was saying as he went back upstairs, but it did give him the chance to get off the phone with his sister. That woman had always panicked over nothing, even when they were children. "What business do you have with the boy?" he demanded angrily as he opened the door. He didn't understand why Ezekiel didn't handle this himself, but he was sure it wouldn't take long to get rid of these children.
"Sir, we are stationed at the facility Dixon Pickhinke is being cared for at. We wanted to let Jessie know that his friend was doing well and we had a few questions to ask him about the incident." Malachi laughed under his breath as the little boy in the doctor costume spoke. Who did these children think they were? They must be playing dress up or something.
"I don't think so, no." Malachi said. They were probably from Jessie and Dixon's school. Word had to have gotten out about what had happened by now. He turned to slam the door, and found to his surprise that it wouldn't move.
"Thanks, Eli," the first boy said with a smile to one of the other two boys who both had long blond hair. That second boy simply grinned. Suddenly the door swung free almost hitting Malachi. "I'm afraid this isn't a request sir. We need to speak with Jessie."
"Demons!" The man shouted as he looked at the door and then stared the second boy in the eyes. The preacher knew he was confronting witchcraft of the worst kind. "You will not be allowed in my house! None of you!" the reverend ordered as he reached inside the door way and swiftly lifted a shotgun into view.
Just as the teenager that was with the boys was raising his little ray gun, the second boy raised his hand. Malachi felt the shotgun being pushed aside and his arms and hands along with it. It slammed into the doorway and fired at the ceiling. "Let go of the gun sir, I can break your arm just as easily as I can hold it in place," the boy called Eli said. Malachi could hear Ezekiel running up the stairs behind him. "I got him, follow the kid!" Eli yelled as the man cried out and dropped the shotgun.
"Eddie!" the first boy shouted as he pointed to the stairwell. "Move in!"
"Y... you don't have the right!" the Reverend shouted through his yelps as his arm was twisted behind him by some unseen force bringing him to his knees.
"Raising your firearm gave us the right, sir," the teenager said as he ran past the man with the other two boys following.
Ezekiel had just enough time to do what he had to do before the door to Jessie's room burst open. The teenager from outside waved his ray gun around the room and demanded to know where Jessie was. They were too late, they would never find Jessie. No one would once these four left his house. He had already heard his father saying to Aunt Rebecca that Jessie would have to be "deprogrammed of his sinful thoughts and desires." That meant that he and his father would be taking the boy to the woods as they had done a few others since his father left the gay boot camp.
"I don't know." Ezekiel answered as he crossed his arms in defiance. "Go ahead and look, he's not in here." He continued with a sneer.
"Search the room." Jerry said as the teenager lowered his ray gun and began to search with the third boy.
"He's not in here," that third boy stated as he closed the closet door. "He's gotta be somewhere else in the house."
"Let's start looking then, he's gotta be here somewhere," Jerry said as he turned for the door and it suddenly slammed shut on its own.
"Huh?" Jerry said as he quickly turned back and stared at the teenager, who shrugged his shoulders. "What did you say?"
"I didn't say anything," the teen said as he looked at the other boy, getting a similar response.
"Davie?" Jerry whispered as he looked around the room in time to see the closet door open seemingly on its own.
"In the closet," Jerry said as he looked inside.
"We already looked in there," the other boy said as Ezekiel sat back and snickered. This kid was entertaining at least. He was pretty good at acting like he was hearing voices.
"I know," Jerry said as he started tapping on the walls inside. "Something tells me we need to look closer."
"Davie," Jerry whispered as he ducked deeper into the closet. "It's the backside of a stairwell."
"Oh my god!" Jerry gasped from inside the closet. "Guys!!!" Jerry yelled as he crawled further into the small area. "He's in here, and not moving!!!"
As the other two rushed for the closet, Ezekiel jumped up from the bed and ran for the door. After the boys pulled Jessie out of the hiding space, they carefully carried him to the bed.
Ezekiel was tugging on the doorknob with all of his strength and it wouldn't budge. He turned back to see the three boys looking at him. He grew wide eyed with fear as he began to realize that he was caught.
"Won't open?" Jerry asked.
"What's your rush kid?" the other little boy added. "You didn't know he was in there, remember?" the kid said in a low tone as he raised his hand. Even though the kid was halfway across the room, Ezekiel felt a hand on his chest, forcing him against the door. "I think Mikey's here. I'm not holding the door."
"Close," Jerry replied with a grin.
"Ahhh..." the long blond-haired kid said with a grin as he opened his hand and threw it downward. As if the kid was doing it himself, Ezekiel was thrown to the floor. "Who did this to the kid?" the boy demanded.
"I don't know!" Ezekiel cried. He was now terrified. These kids were doing things that were simply not possible.
"It was him," Jerry said as he turned toward the teenager with the ray gun. "Is he alive?"
"Yeah, looks like our buddy over there knocked him out. Probably to keep him quiet." The older boy replied as he pulled a communicator from the holster at his side. "Medical emergency! Request one to beam out immediately from these coordinates."
"Energizing Mr. Fraser. Stand clear," a man's voice replied.
Just as the teen stepped back from the bed, Jessie's nearly lifeless body disappeared. Now all attention in the room was focused on Ezekiel. "Stand him up!" the uniformed teenager said through clenched teeth causing Jerry to jump out of surprise.
"Sure, my pleasure," the long haired boy replied with a sarcastic tone as he quickly raised his hand. Ezekiel literally flew upright and right into the door with a slam.
"Who did this?'" the teenager with the ray gun asked as he took a step forward getting no answer.
"Answer him," the second boy added as Ezekiel felt himself be jerked away from the door and slammed back into it once again.
"P... pa… Papa did!" he shouted and began to cry.
"He's lying, guys," Jerry said crossing his arms. "His father has beat Jessie, but he has done worse. They both need to be taken into custody," Jerry said looking up at the teenager with him.
"How do you know all this?" the older boy asked with a confused look on his face.
"Divine intervention," the second boy said with a smile as he swung his arm causing Ezekiel to be thrown into the opposing wall. "You can let it open Davie, I got him," the boy said, as the door seemed to drift open. "Thanks for the help, bro," He added causing the teenager in uniform to look even more confused.
"We'll explain later." Jerry said with a giggle as Ezekiel was tossed out into the hall and bounced off every wall on the way toward the stairs where they all began to hear whimpering and crying from the first floor.
"Eli! You ok?" the long haired boy shouted as he waved his hand. Ezekiel was sent tripping and stumbling all the way down to the first floor.
"Oh, I'm fine," Eli said as he looked up just in time to see Ezekiel land on the hard wood floor with a thump. "Hey, you must be Ezekiel," Eli said with a laugh. "You're Poppa has told me some really interesting stories about you."
"He tell you any about himself?" Jerry asked as he stepped over Ezekiel who was curled into a crying ball at the bottom of the stairs.
"Awww... Have you been a bad Reverend; Reverend? What a shame, and we were just becoming best friends too," Eli said. Reverend Malachi felt his arm be pushed further up his back, causing him to scream out in pain. "Guess we can't be friends now," Eli said with a laugh as he looked back at the group and grinned. "What a dirt bag."
"No joke," the uniformed teenager replied. "Where are the rest of the occupants of this house?"
"My wi... wife is sho.. shopping..." the Reverend said between gasps before his son was tossed over to join him on the floor.
"Was the mother involved in all of this?" the boy who had gone upstairs asked Jerry.
"Probably not. Davie said these two were the only ones he saw abusing Jessie," Jerry said with a scowl as he pulled a small hand held computer out of his pocket. "Hold on one second guys," he said as he seemed to stare into an empty corner of the room and then started tapping away.
"What are you doing dude?" one of the boys asked as he watched Jerry sigh and pull out his communicator.
"These two need to be locked up," he said after clearing his throat. "Owens to Director Furst."
"Marc here, Jerry. What's wrong?" another kid's voice answered.
"I don't believe I have to do this," Jerry said as he rubbed his eyes. "Director, please log this transmission as it is to be immediately forwarded to Clan Headquarters and Federation Youth Services."
"Understood Doctor, proceed."
Jerry cleared his throat and looked at one of his companions, who simply nodded his head as encouragement. "My name is Doctor Jerald Jonathan Owens, an officer of Clan Short of the family of Sarek of the house of Surak of the planet Vulcan, Artificial Intelligence Division. I am reporting my findings regarding the investigation of the minor Jessie David Blankenship in relation to recent legal interactions with local authorities and local Child Protection Services providing a fostering environment. We have found evidence of both physical and sexual abuse as provided by David William Owens, already on-site prior to our arrival," Jerry got out as his voice began to crack. With a sniffle he continued, "It is my duty to order protective custody to be immediately transferred to Clan Short, AI Division pending further investigation by Clan Short intelligence."
"Doctor, please state the basis of your actions."
"Yes sir," Jerry said as his hands began to shake. "Due to the evidence collected during this investigation, I am invoking the Safe Haven Act as there are clear violations of Article 11; sections 11.1, 11.2; substantiated under Article 68; section 68.1.a and pending Patriarch Short's investigation as required by Article 200, section 11.4." Jerry said as he inhaled deeply. "Following telepathic investigation we will be required to further invoke Article 12; section 12.2 and possibly articles 13; section 13.1 and article 14 section 14.2." He got out and for a moment the room fell completely silent. "Request permission to take Reverend Malachi Smeltz and his son Ezekiel Smeltz into immediate custody."
"Permission granted, Jerry. Sounds like you have sufficient reason to invoke this act. We are standing by to transport your team and prisoners directly to the brig. I'll have a security team awaiting your arrival. Marc out."
"Six to beam directly to the brig, Chief," Jerry said into the communicator.
"On your command sir," the same voice Ezekiel had heard upstairs responded.
The Reverend Malachi Smeltz and his son Ezekiel felt a strange tingling sensation just as their living room seemed to disappear, only to be replaced by a dingy and dirty room with no windows. There were jail cells lining one wall.
"Eli, get the cells open while I keep these two covered," the uniformed teen ordered.
"I can't get it to power up!" the boy called Eli said just as a white-blond haired kid and a man enter the room. "Good timing," he said smiling at the new boy. "This stupid control panel doesn't work. We can't open the cell doors."
"Okay," this kid said as he walked into a control booth to the side of the room. "Somewhere in here there should be a key set, so we can lock and unlock them manually," he said as he began to look around the small room.
"Nope," Eli stated with his hands on his hips. "If it's in here, they hid it good."
"Wonderful," the platinum blond stated as he exited the booth and walked back into the detention area to join the others. "Hi guys," he said as he entered the room to see the preacher and his son handcuffed to one of the cells while the group seemed to be searching the room. "The control booth is junk and the master key set wasn't left behind," he said as he pulled at one of the doors to see if it would open. "If we can get one to open, we might be able to chain the door or something."
Jerry nodded his head and grabbed one of the doors and gave it a tug. Just like the one the new kid tried, it wouldn't budge. "Why are they all locked?"
"Default condition," the teenager in the uniform said as he grabbed the door to a nearby cell and gasped as the door literally fell of its hinges and crashed to the floor. "Um..." he said as he brushed the dust off of his clothes. "Marc, this one's open," he said with a worried grin. "I hope they plan to renovate this section soon."
"We didn't actually plan to be holding prisoners Dude." Marc said as he tried another cell, and it actually opened. "Here we go." He said as he turned to the reverend and his son. "Room for two." He said in a sarcastic tone as Eddie rushed over and began to unshackle the teenager. "Where did you guys find the handcuffs? They look ancient."
"The Guards station. They were in the desk." One of the others said as he assisted the uniformed teen in releasing the two and getting them into the cell.
Once they were both inside, Reverend Smeltz started laughing when the door to the cell bounced back open behind them. "Nice plan. Maybe next time you boys want to play cops and robbers you'll stick to your back yard and not use people who will end out suing for wrongful prosecution." He chuckled again as the uniformed teenager wrapped the handcuffs around the bars and locked them in place.
"Oh yeah, I really trust this," the boy said as he rattled the door.
"We'll keep an armed guard in here," Marc said as he raised an eyebrow when Jerry gave another tug and realized he could still open the door enough to stick his head through. "Maybe we can barricade the cell somehow." Marc got out as the teen in the security uniform kicked at the bars. The reverend and his son were laughing the entire time.
"Stand back," the security costumed kid said as he pulled out a ray gun, playing with the settings. "Close your eyes guys!" he shouted as he fired at the door and fused it shut. "Laugh at that," he said to the man and his son.
The fireworks had done the job. Malachi and Ezekiel Smeltz now knew they weren't being kidnapped by children playing games. This was serious now. They looked on in silence as the boys outside their cell continued to talk.
"That works..." Eli said as he watched his twin blow at the smoke that was fuming from the door frame. "...but how are we gonna get them out?"
"Who cares?" the security kid said as he looked inside the cell, allowing an evil grin to spread across his face. "Cops and robbers is getting boring anyway. You guys wanna go hang out at the mall or something?" he said with a laugh as he waved the group toward the processing room. "Let's leave these two alone," He said as he nodded his head to one of the cadets that were assigned to the prisoners. "If they get out of hand, stun them."
"How you feeling, Little D?" Dixon opened his eyes to see a middle aged black man standing in the doorway of the room he had slept in. "You just call me Uncle Mel. Your great grandmomma stopped in the ladies room to freshen up. She's bound and determined she's gonna sit right here beside you until those little doctor boys of yours say you can go home." Dixon couldn't help but giggle a little at the not so flattering reference to Marc and Jerry.
"You're my uncle?" Dixon asked somewhat confused.
"Your skin would be a mite darker if I were, don't you think?" Uncle Mel asked with a smile. "You got an Aunt Pet just as dark as me waiting for to feed you as soon as we gets you home. She's my wife. We work for your great grandmomma, Mrs. Amee. Pet's family been with yours since the slave days. I took over the chauffeuring from Pet's daddy when he passed."
"My family has a chauffeur?" the still sleepy boy asked slowly.
"Yes sir, Little D. You gots a chauffeur, that's me, a cook, that's Pet, and then there's Pet's boy, Huey, he just started working with the gardener," the man replied. "There's some more folks works around the place too, but we the only ones what lives there."
"It's like I'm in a dream, where I'm getting everything I ever wanted," Dixon mumbled. "Except the one thing I want the most," he whispered sadly.
"You tell old Uncle Mel what it is you want that you ain't got yet, and I'll fetch it to you right now."
"You can't fetch a person," Dixon told the nice old man. "I miss my bo…my best friend, Jesse." Just then a well dressed, but very old woman walked into the room. She was dressed in a fancy pants suit and had a cane with her, but it didn't look as if she really needed it; like it was there just in case. She stopped just inside the door and stared at Dixon as he looked back at her. Tears began to flow down her cheeks as she stepped far enough into the room to sit down in the chair near the bed. "Do I look that bad?" Dixon asked nervously.
"Oh no, precious," the woman gasped, nearly sobbing. "I'm crying because you look so good." The confusion on Dixon's face must have been evident, because she continued to explain. "I never thought I would get to see you again. Ten years is such a long time when you are either very young like you, or very old like me."
"Are you my great grandmother?" Dixon asked. He immediately regretted it. How dumb could he be? Of course this was his great grandmother. Who else would she be?
"I certainly am, Little D," the woman smiled even though she was still crying a bit.
"Little D?" Dixon questioned.
"When you were a baby, your father was called Dan or Danny, and he called his grandfather, my husband, Big D," Mrs. Amee began to tell him. "With three men in the house with the same name, it only made sense that some of you go by nicknames. Yours was Little D. If you don't like it, we could call you something else. I will have to get used to calling you Dixon. I have already talked to a friend of mine who is a judge about getting your name changed legally to Dixon. You've had that name as far back as you can remember so it doesn't make sense for you to have relearn who you are."
"Yeah, everything else I'm finding out today is bad enough." There was another muffled sob from the old lady. "I'm sorry," Dixon said quickly. "I didn't mean to insult you."
"You didn't sweet boy, you didn't," Mrs. Amee assured the boy. "I just can't get over seeing you again. I thought I didn't have any blood family left." She stood up and took a hesitant step toward the bed. "I know it's asking a lot, since I'm practically a stranger to you, but could I hug you? I'll understand if you don't want me to do that. You don't know me from Adam's off aunt."
"I guess it would be ok," Dixon said softly. He didn't want to admit it because boys his age weren't supposed to do things like this, but he really wanted someone to hug him right at that moment. His great grandmother eased up to him and gently wrapped her arms around him. Just as she took him into her embrace, the smell of her cologne hit Dixon's nose. Suddenly from the deepest part of his mind a glimmer that was almost a memory sprang up. "Mamee," he whispered.
Mrs. Amee pulled away from the boy just enough to look into his face. "What did you just say?"
"I don't know," he fibbed. "Mamee," he whispered again nervously.
"Do you remember me?" the old woman breathed. "That's what you used to call me. You were too little to talk much and couldn't say Grandmama Amee. You would look up at me and say Mamee, and I would scoop you up in my arms and hold you while you snuggled up so close. I suppose you were too young for any of that to come back to you now."
"I don't know," Dixon confessed. "I think it was your perfume. When I smelled it that word came to my mind."
"Who knows; maybe you will remember some more things when you get to come home," Mrs. Amee told him as she wiped away more of her tears. "You used to live with me, you and your parents."
For the next hour or so, Mrs. Amee told Dixon all the information she could about his parents. She laughed as she told stories from her grandson's childhood. She cried as she told about the losses of her husband, son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and finally her granddaughter-in-law. She told him of her joy at hearing that he had been found, and her terror at the idea that she might still lose him.
"I know you will probably feel a bit uneasy at first, but I want you to know that no one is going to push you too fast or hard to settle in," she assured the boy. "You can date anyone you please, male or female. You won't be the first gay boy in the family."
"Mrs. Amee, shouldn't we let Huey handle this himself?" Melvin interrupted.
"I wasn't actually referring to him," the old woman smiled wistfully. "My baby brother Josiah had a male companion. They were so in love anyone could see the way they felt for one another. When the fever struck our house, our mother was the first to fall to it. One by one, all of us got sick except Doug of course. He was taking care of all of us, even Annie Mae and her family. Annie Mae's Papa passed first, then her twin sister Bonnie Faye. The next one to die was my mother. Annie Mae lost another sister and a brother and my brother Josiah was the last to go. The rest of us started getting better after that, due mostly to Doug's devoted care. He never rested, much less slept. When Josiah died, it was as if something inside Doug broke. He was never the same again. Unfortunately, neither was my daddy."
"Daddy kind of lost it for a while after that," she continued. "I don't know if his mind broke from the fever or if it was just the loss of Momma and Josiah, and without Josey, Doug couldn't face living anymore. Daddy didn't make it any easier for him, either. Daddy blamed Doug for them dying since he was taking care of us all. He seemed to forget that poor Doug had never had any medical training other than emergency first aid. He wasn't a doctor. I think Daddy had it in for Doug before that a little bit because of him and Josiah being the way they were. That weren't Doug's fault, though. He was the perfect match for Josiah, and Josiah surely didn't ask to be that way. I don't mean that there is anything wrong with being that way if it's the way you're born. Daddy just never understood that."
"What happened to Doug?" Dixon asked quietly.
"Doug wandered off into the woods behind the house one day and I never saw him again," Mrs. Amee answered. "Daddy made talk for a while about it. He sounded real pleased with himself over Doug's disappearing, like he had something to do with it, and was proud of the fact. I have missed Doug ever since he left. He was the same age as Josiah, so he would have been about fourteen or fifteen when he disappeared. He looked a couple of years younger than that, though. Josiah got Doug for his thirteenth birthday. I was three years older than them, but we were all as close as if we were triplets."
"What do you mean he got Doug?" Dixon asked. "How do you get a person?"
"Doug wasn't a human, Little D," Mrs. Amee explained. "He was a M.A.R.C. series android. There was a lot of uproar in the fifties about them psychologically failing. The company that made them shut down and eventually disappeared completely." she added. "I would have reported Doug to them, but he had been gone so long, I'm sure he had already deactivated. I figure he went to the cave that we all used to play in back in the woods and shut himself down."
Mrs. Amee smiled as she saw Dixon trying to hide a yawn. "Am I boring you, Little D?" she asked with a smile.
"Oh, no ma'am," he answered quickly. "I just feel so tired. I am so sorry. I didn't mean for you to…."
"Now you just hush up," she scolded gently. "I know you're worn out. It's been such a big day for you. You go ahead and take a little nap. If it's ok with you, I will be here beside your bed when you wake up again."
"I think I would like that," the boy admitted. He squirmed a little. He was obviously nervous. "This is going to sound pretty weird, but do you think you could hug me again?" he whispered almost too faintly for the old lady to hear.
"I would be honored," she told her great grandson. "I'll hold you until you fall asleep, if you'd like." She realized she might be pushing things too far too fast, and immediately apologized.
"Actually, I think I might like that," Dixon confessed with a blush. "Mom… I mean that woman… never liked affection much. I like it almost as much as cuddling with….Never mind," he finished quickly.
"Were you going to say with your boyfriend?" Mrs. Amee asked gently. She saw the sudden look of fear on Dixon's face. "Now don't go getting all upset. Yes, we know about your little boyfriend," she continued. "That doesn't make one bit of difference to me or anyone else at my house. You go ahead and take your nap, and you can tell me all about him when you wake up." Dixon was too tired to argue. He merely nodded, as he laid his head against his great grandmother's shoulder.